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CalDigit T4 Thunderbolt 2 Quad-Drive RAID Array Storage Unit Review

CalDigit adds RAID 5 support and launches the T4 Thunderbolt 2 four-drive RAID array external storage unit. Here's our full review of the device.

@TylerBernath
Published Thu, Dec 18 2014 1:06 AM CST   |   Updated Tue, Nov 3 2020 6:59 PM CST
Rating: 85%Manufacturer: CalDigit

Introduction

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Over the two going on three years I have been here at TweakTown, we have had a few CalDigit products come through the lab. Just last month, we had the chance to look at the revamped T3 that added Thunderbolt 2 technology to the classic three bay chassis and today we take a look at yet another new release from CalDigit.

The T4 Thunderbolt 2 adds a fourth bay to the iconic CalDigit chassis along with Thunderbolt 2 support. RAID modes have been upgraded adding in RAID 5 for this solution, along with the standard RAID 0, RAID 1 and JBOD.

Pricing, Availability and Specifications

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Marketing specifications for the CalDigit T4 Thunderbolt 2 have the weight of the unit coming in just over 7.2lbs with SSDs installed, while HDDs increase the weight by nearly five pounds up to 12.5lbs. RAID mode support includes RAID 0, 1, 5 and JBOD with hot swappable drives. Cooling the enclosure, we have an 80mm fan operating at 1500 RPM pushing 21.9CFM at 17dba. Compatibility of the T4 Thunderbolt 2 extends to OS X 10.8+.

The CalDigit T4 Thunderbolt 2 comes in many variations, including 4TB ($899.99), 8TB ($1199.99), 12TB ($1399.99), 16TB ($1699.99) and 20TB ($1999.99) hard drive based models. Solid State based models are available in a 4TB capacity, with a MSRP of $3299.99. Each of these units carries a five-year warranty.

CalDigit T4 Thunderbolt 2

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Packaging for the T4 carries an image of the enclosure on the front. To the left, we have marketing information with capacity listed at the top right.

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Opening the packaging, we found the accessories tucked away.

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Scope of delivery for the T4 is quite simple. Here we have the enclosure, power adapter, and software disk.

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The front of the T4 is quite similar to the original T3. Here we have a full aluminum enclosure with aluminum drive trays, though this time around we have four bays. At the bottom, we have the power button, accompanied by five LEDs denoting disk activity and power.

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The back of the T4 houses dual Thunderbolt 2 ports with the cooling fan above and power input to the right.

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Here we have the 3TB HDDs included with our sample. These are Toshiba DT01ACA300 drives.

Test System Setup

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In testing the performance of Thunderbolt storage solutions, we utilize the Apple MacBook Pro Retina Late 2013 model, which as of this article is running OS X 10.9.1. Full system specifications are available above. To create RAID volumes in OS X I use Apple Disk Utility with 64K stripe size. In addition to this, we use a Windows test system seen above for Thunderbolt appliances that support. Benchmarks used in Windows include IOMeter 1.1; all volumes use a 128K-stripe size and are tested without a file system.

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The CalDigit T4 allows you to control enclosure operations with its very own Drive Utility. From this software, you can control everything from RAID modes to preferences and even benchmark.

OS X Benchmarks Black Magic Disk Speed Test

Black Magic Disk Speed Test

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In our first test, we have all solutions in RAID 0. Of course, some of the units here aren't directly comparable, as they don't share the same amount of drive bays as the T4. At any rate, the CalDigit T4 was able to produce 738 MB/s read and 734 MB/s write.

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Moving to RAID 1, we found the T4 capable of 253 MB/s read and 189 MB/s write.

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Our RAID 5 results had the T4 at 539 MB/s read and 502 MB/s write.

OS X Benchmarks AJA System Test

AJA System Test 720p

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In our 720p RAID 0 testing, the T4 did quite well matching what we found with both the T3 and Thunderbay IV from OWC. Results came in at 742 MB/s read and 733 MB/s write.

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Moving to 720p RAID 1, we found the T4 coming in at 212 MB/s read and 182 MB/s write.

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720p RAID 5 allowed the T4 to reach 554 MB/s read and 538 MB/s write.

AJA System Test 1080p

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Switching our workload over to 1080p, we start with RAID 0 results where the CalDigit T4 managed 737 MB/s read and 732 MB/s write.

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Swapping over to RAID 1, we found performance touching 243 MB/s read and 184 MB/s write.

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RAID 5 with our 1080p workload had the T4 producing 555 MB/s read and 543 MB/s write.

AJA System Test 4K

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Out last workload is 4K, and starting with RAID 0, we found the T4 doing quite well. Here we have 743 MB/s read and 731 MB/s write for the CalDigit just behind the Thunderbay IV at 786 MB/s read and 789 MB/s write.

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4K and RAID 1 produced 275 MB/s read with 183 MB/s write right with other enclosures in our charts.

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In our 4K testing with RAID 5, the T4 performed quite well with results right with the OWC Thunderbay IV. Here we had 558 MB/s read and 450 MB/s write.

Final Thoughts

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The T4 is a welcomed addition to the storage lineup from CalDigit. Adding a fourth bay to the enclosure has enabled CalDigit to produce a RAID 5 solution for those that want data redundancy without sacrificing performance. Build quality of the T4 was top notch with the all aluminum design, while the fan in the unit was quiet, while maintaining internal temperatures.

Performance of the T4 was rather good with RAID 0 thanks to the four bays. Here we were able to peak the unit out at 738 MB/s read and 734 MB/s write. RAID 1 results were on par with other solutions in our charts, with Black Magic we peaked at 253 MB/s read and 189 MB/s write, while RAID 5 results were at the top of our charts coming in at 539 MB/s read and 502 MB/s write.

TweakTown award
Performance85%
Quality including Design and Build90%
General Features90%
Bundle and Packaging80%
Value for Money80%
Overall85%

The Bottom Line: CalDigit's T4 is a great solution for those wanting high performance storage with data redundancy. With the initial cost being quite high, this may steer some away, but this unit does have a class leading five-year warranty as well.

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Growing up in a small farm town, tech wasn't around, unless it was in a tractor. At an early age, Tyler's parents brought home their first PC. Tyler was hooked and learned what it meant to format a HDD, spending many nights reinstalling Windows 95. Tyler's love and enthusiast nature always kept his PC nearby. Eager to get deeper into tech, he started reviewing.

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